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Oral history interview with Louis A. Girifalco

  • 2008-Jun-10

Oral history interview with Louis A. Girifalco

  • 2008-Jun-10

Louis A. Girifalco studied applied science at the University of Cincinnati, and did his Ph.D. research on the adhesion of ice to surfaces. The surface science thesis research naturally evolved into solid state physics when Girifalco began work for the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics, which eventually became the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. During his career Girifalco met Robert Maddin, which ultimately led an offer of a faculty position for Girifalco at the University of Pennsylvania. At Penn, Girifalco worked in the metallurgical engineering department and reflected upon the creation of the Laboratory for Research on the Structure of Matter (LSRM), as well as the funding process within LRSM. Fundamentally an interdisciplinary research institute, Girifalco spent time as director of LRSM and discussed his views on the evolution of the academic science research system and on the Nano/Bio Interface Center and other current interdisciplinary research institutes.

Property Value
Place of interview
  • 28 pages
Rights Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License
Rights holder
  • Science History Institute
Credit line
  • Courtesy of Science History Institute

About the Interviewer

Hyungsub Choi is an Assistant Professor of Materials Science and Engineering at Seoul National University and was manager of the emerging technologies program at the Chemical Heritage Foundation, directing the Robert W. Gore Materials Innovation project. His training is in the history of science and technology, with specialties in recent developments in the fields of semiconductors, materials science, and nanotechnology. He has received degrees from Seoul National University, Georgia Institute of Technology, and Johns Hopkins University. He was a Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS) postdoctoral fellow at the University of Tokyo, Japan. Choi’s works have appeared in leading professional journals, such as Technology and Culture and Social Studies of Science.  Currently, he is preparing a book examining the history of the semiconductor industry in the United States and Japan.

Institutional location

Oral history number 0635

Related Items

Interviewee biographical information

  • July 03, 1928
  • New York City, New York, United States


Year Institution Degree Discipline
1950 Rutgers University BS Chemistry
1952 University of Cincinnati MS Applied Science
1954 University of Cincinnati PhD Applied Science

Professional Experience

E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Company

  • 1954 to 1955 Research Chemist

Lewis Research Center

  • 1955 to 1959 Solid State Physicist, Solid State Physics Section
  • 1959 to 1961 Head, Solid State Physics Section

University of Pennsylvania

  • 1961 to 1965 Associate Professor of Metallurgical Engineering
  • 1965 to 1982 Professor of Metallurgy and Materials Science
  • 1967 to 1969 Director, Laboratory for Research on the Structure of Matter
  • 1972 to 1974 Chair, Department of Metallurgy and Materials Science
  • 1974 to 1979 Associate Dean, School of Engineering and Applied Science
  • 1979 to 1981 Vice Provost for Research
  • 1981 to 1982 Acting Provost
  • 1982 University Professor of Materials Science


Year(s) Award
1996 D Sc (Honoris Causa) Hahnemann University

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PDF — 293 KB

The published version of the transcript may diverge from the interview audio due to edits to the transcript made by staff of the Center for Oral History, often at the request of the interviewee, during the transcript review process.

Audio File Web-quality download

1 Interview Segment Archival-quality download